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Chapter

Louis Bélanger Pierre-Marc Daigneault

This chapter highlights concept construction. All social sciences research projects, be they qualitative or quantitative, are dependent on concepts. The chapter first explains what concepts are and why social scientists should be self-conscious in the way they use them. It then describes the methodology of concept construction and presents three different ways to structure a concept. Finally, the chapter provides criteria to evaluate the quality of the concepts we have built ourselves or borrowed from others. Concept construction involves two basic operations beyond choosing a term to designate the concept: identifying the fundamental characteristics of the phenomenon of interest, and logically connecting these characteristics.

Chapter

Typology  

A Multidimensional Classification

Jean-Frédéric Morin, Christian Olsson, and Ece Özlem Atikcan

This chapter assesses typology. The importance of typologies is contested. Some scholars view them as fundamental to concept construction, while others consider that they are temporary devices at best and actually discourage their use. The chapter focuses on the less problematic, heuristic roles of typologies. In this respect, typologies are a proven and widely used instrument for organizing knowledge and ideas at various stages of research, and especially for jump starting the process of generating hypotheses. Moreover, theories are often presented, e.g. for didactic purposes, by means of typologies. Before turning to the uses of typologies, the chapter differentiates between typology, classification, and taxonomy.

Book

Edited by Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki, and Steve Smith

The fifth edition of this text provides coverage of international relations theories and arguments. The chapters explore the full spectrum of theoretical perspectives and debates, ranging from the historically dominant traditions of realism, liberalism, and Marxism to poststructuralism, green theory, and Global IR. Each chapter is dedicated to a particular theory and features a case study that bridges theory and practice, and shows how theory can be used to explain real-world political dilemmas. Spotlights on key books and articles encourage readers to go beyond the textbook and explore important works in the field, and new case study questions encourage analytical thinking and help readers understand the value of applying theory to concrete political problems.

Chapter

This chapter introduces the proposed theoretical toolbox this book intends to use for the studying of democracy in Europe. The idea is that the analytical concepts created by this toolbox will prove useful for understanding the various aspects of democratic politics seen throughout Europe. The fundamental philosophy of this book is the idea that to understand democratic governance, in particular in Europe, there needs to be a model. The goal isn’t to include every single possible detail of what is observed in the real world. Rather, it is to consider the essential elements for understanding democratic politics and to use those to highlight the various nuances found in the real world. A model is a comparative and analytical tool, rather than a method of example.

Chapter

Operationalization  

From the Concepts to the Data

Anne-Laure Mahé and Theodore McLauchlin

This chapter describes operationalization, which refers to the intellectual operations the researcher undertakes to decide how to observe a concept in reality. This is a crucial step of the research process, as many concepts in the social sciences are too abstract to be immediately observed. The most important criteria of a successful operationalization are consequently the consistency between each step of the research design, from theory formation to data collection, and the degree to which the indicators effectively allow the researcher to gather observations that work well in the context under study. One way to synthesize these points is that operationalization should enable the researcher to respect the principle of double adequacy. First, the researcher’s conceptual argument and the operationalized data should correspond. Second, there is a need for adequacy between those data and the ‘reference reality’.

Book

Edited by Jean-Frédéric Morin, Christian Olsson, and Ece Özlem Atikcan

Research Methods in the Social Sciences features chapters that cover a wide range of concepts, methods, and theories. Each chapter begins with an introduction to a method, using real-world examples from a wide range of academic disciplines, before discussing the benefits and limitations of the approach, its current status in academic practice, and finally providing tips and advice on when and how to apply the method in research. The text covers both well-established concepts and emerging ideas, such as big data and network analysis, for qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Chapter

This final chapter addresses a really big question: are international relations heading towards order or chaos? To answer this question, it interrogates the different IR theories presented in previous chapters. An initial section provides a conceptual map, based on a review of different understandings of the concept of world order. The chapter proceeds by discussing the effect of the rise of authoritarian power such as China, new challenges in established democracies, fragile states in the Global South, and the governance provided by international institutions. The chapter ends by arguing that the glass is at the same time half-full and half-empty: the world faces new and formidable challenges and we are very far from meeting current aspirations for world order; at the same time, global relations are much more ordered than they used to be just a few generations ago—and things are far better than many pessimists claim.